Monday, November 29, 2010

Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens Comes Out Against Death Penalty.

Following quote from ADAM LIPTAK of The New York Times:

In 2008, two years before he announced his retirement, Justice Stevens reversed course and in a concurrence said that he now believed the death penalty to be unconstitutional. But the reason for that change of heart, after more than three decades on the court and some 1,100 executions, has in many ways remained a mystery, and now Justice Stevens has provided an explanation.

In a detailed, candid and critical essay to be published this week in
The New York Review of Books, he wrote that personnel changes on the court, coupled with “regrettable judicial activism,” had created a system of capital punishment that is shot through with racism, skewed toward conviction, infected with politics and tinged with hysteria.

TPJ: Stevens is one of the smartest and best supreme court justice that America has ever seen. So, it makes it all the more compelling that he is taking such a strong stand against capital punishment. If justices of the Supreme Court who rule on legality are changing their mind on the death penalty then clearly it is something that American society and Congress need to address. It is barbaric that in such a supposedly civilized country as the U.S. that people are still being killed by the state.

Especially when errors of conviction are occurring all the time. DNA evidence releases a handful of innocent people each year. Everyone talks about being "Pro Life" but then they often support the death penalty!! If "God" is to be the ultimate judge then why do so many people of religious belief still back-up this archaic form of punishment. It seems to me that a killing a prisoner is giving them an easy way out of facing their consequences. Let them sit in prison and think about the crimes that they have committed and the freedom they have lost.

Lock them away so that they never get out--ever. No parole, no nothing but confinement. However, taking the life of another isn't something we should be doing except in extreme cases like wars, self-defense and law enforcement. Every other industrialized, democratic country in the world has outlawed the death penalty except puritanical, America. The only countries besides America who keep it are places like China, Iran and North Korea!!

Finally think about this, "Why do we kill people to show society that killing is wrong?" Isn't that like cutting off your nose to spite your face?

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Thursday, November 25, 2010

TSA Screenings, Pat-Downs and Thanksgiving.

On Thanksgiving eve, I am thankful for our men and women fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. If they can go fight in those hell holes then the least we can do is walk though those scanners or put up with uncomfortable pat-downs at the airport. These TSA workers are trained professionals; not child molesters. I'm sure that they don't enjoy making people uncomfortable. Instead, we hear people clamoring again for profiling people that are Arab, Muslim, men. Besides the obvious racism behind this method; it is woefully narrow in scope.

There are all kinds of radicalized people in the world looking to strike against us. This includes white skinned Europeans from places like Georgia and Bosnia. Or Asians in Indonesia. Remember "Jihad Jane?" Yeah, she was a white lady with blonde hair!! Remember Adam Gadahn? He was an American from a Jewish family!! Or, John Walker Lindh, the so-called, "American Taliban?" He was a white kid from the suburbs of California. The underwear bomber that kicked off these pat downs and scanners was of African descent.

So, if we're going to profile, we'll have to include the world world!! It isn't logical, but then again racial bias is never logical. If you can't give up a little of your pride to fly safely then what the hell are we doing asking our young men and women to fight and die for us in Afghanistan and Iraq? I fully support our soldiers, the TSA workers and our anti-terrorist officials. They are doing a difficult job and they deserve our support. I hope they (and you) have a happy and safe Thanksgiving.

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

North Korea and the START Treaty

Well, North Korea is throwing another tantrum with their shelling of a South Korean island. They are like a teen-ager who's trying to make a statement to the world that they're tough and not to be messed with. But, in reality, as with teen-ager punks, North Korea is insecure with it's position in the geo-political sphere. Some experts of the region are saying this bombing was a show of force by the new, young, leader taking over; Kim Jong Il's son. So, the question becomes what can be done to contain the tantrums. Well, from what I've read and heard from the experts, it involves the six parties of the region, which must include Russia.

And, yet, how do we convince Russia to get on board again for talks if we don't hold up our end of the bargain on the START treaty to reduce nuclear weapons between our two countries? Ask the Republicans because they are blocking the passage of this treaty in a continuance of their cynical campaign to prevent President Obama from getting a victory. This is coming from the same Republican party that claims to be the toughest on issues of defense!! Not only that, but this START treaty was originally the brain-child of their St. Ronald Reagan!! I don't think even Reagan would find a place for him in today's rapid Republican party.

The Republicans are so obsessed with defeating President Obama that they are risking a lot internationally. Russia is a must partner on resolving issues around North Korea, China and Iran. If we can't keep their trust then any hope of getting much co-operation will dwindle. All because of political gamesmanship.

PHOTO CREDIT: By, NARUTO for Trends Update

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Royal Wedding: Or, How The Mainstream Media is Addicted to Tabloid Journalism.

Ever try turning on the news during the day and getting some coverage and in-depth analysis of the political issue of the day? Well, then you'll understand my frustration that's about to be vented. I don't care about Prince William and his betrothed -- there, I said it (PICTURE, LEFT: King George III of England. The king who ruled during the American Revolution).

Personally, I make a point of not concerning myself with the affairs of the royals below the status of king or queen. No, actually I find the whole concept of "royals" to be a dusty relic of the past that has no real value to the modern world. Why the British keep shelling out tax dollars to keep the ghost of royalty around is beyond me.

Of course, the people get something in return. Apparently in exchange for these tax dollars the royals show up for the opening of certain buildings and represent the face of "Ye Ole England" while abroad. Of course, a royal visit doesn't have the flair of days when they actually had some power to affect much of anything. Now, they just seem like a sad lounge singer who has outlived his fan base, and ends up doing gigs at low-rent bars. What a rip off.

You know that royal patronage has long out-lived its usefulness when they're clout consists of heading up the opening of a new grocery store in North London. Christening the building by smashing a champagne bottle with their pale, blue-blood hand. In addition, to be a traveling wax museum to the world. Now, you might say that I'm being too harsh on the royals but I recall an America where royalty was considered outdated; and that was back in the 18th century!! Now, we're more interested in the gown of the future princess and the location of the wedding. In the middle of two wars, a crashing economy and a planet that is slowly boiling us to death like frogs; but we're going to spend a good chunk of the day talking about the royal wedding. It's more like a royal pain in the ass!!

I just find it SO ironic that the only royal family that Americans are interested in, from around the world is the same incestuous outfight that oppressed our early nation and fought to prevent our freedom!! Now, we're in love with the idea of monarchy. I wouldn't be surprised if a chunk of Americans would be fine with a monarchy now since so many of them seem to like being told what to think, do and say. Between the Bush and Clinton dynasties; maybe we are bringing royalty to America? Darwin, help us!!

Other tabloid tripe that's taking up air waves on t.v. news today instead of reporting in-depth on the monumental news of the South Korean violence: the privacy of baby monitors, the Natalie Holloway cold case and Sara Palin's new "book." And the mainstream media wonders why everyone is flocking to the internet for real news and analysis!!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Stop Bitching About the TSA Body Imaging and Pat Downs.

Oh, quit whining puritanical America!! If groping me is going to find a bomb that would otherwise KILL me and everyone else on the plane, then grope away. I can survive being uncomfortable if it's going to save MY LIFE, the life of my family members and my fellow human being. We don't mind doctors and nurses touching us; and TSA screeners are professionals in their field. And, in regards to the video imagining? It isn't exactly centerfold quality pictures, folks.

There is much better, scantily clad images online for free; and they are much sexier than most of us. So, let's not flatter ourselves -- This is a machine that pretty much blurs out any sexuality. If someone is getting aroused by my blurry x-ray then so be it. At least I won't get BLOWN UP. I think that's a bigger priority than some groping -- I'm a big boy; I'll survive.
Life is full of inconveniences.

I find it obnoxious, too, that there are conservatives and Tea Party brewers who are some of the ones bitching about this "unacceptable invasion" of privacy. They pull out the religion card saying it prevents them from being touched by strangers. Well, what does your religion say about preventing your kids from being blown up into small, rubbery pieces of flesh from an airplane bomb??? Wait, wait, wait a damn minute!! These are the same people who stood up for the PATRIOT Act, and made the statements that if you don't have anything to hide from the government then you have nothing to worry about.

These are also the same people who claim to be adamant about defending ourselves no matter what, from enemies abroad. But, when it comes down it they whine about personal inconveniences because it's all about them. They are the "me" party and if they don't like something then everyone has to put up with their tantrums. I support the TSA and other government responders working hard to keep us safe. Grow up America, and deal with it. This is just the reality of 21st century America. So, either get in line or sit down and shut up.

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

G.M. is Back and Repaying Tax Payers.

GM is about to be reborn. The company is going public and ending the government’s role as a majority stakeholder in the automaker. NEW YORK (By Clare Baldwin and Soyoung Kim) - NEW YORK (Reuters) -General Motors Co shares gained as much as 9 percent on Thursday as investors bet that the top U.S. automaker can make a lasting recovery after repaying a big chunk of last year's government bailout with funds raised in a landmark initial public offering.

The start of trading in GM shares represents one of the final steps in a blockbuster initial public offering negotiated by the Obama administration that raised $20.1 billion after pricing its common and preferred shares. The IPO caps the first stage of a turnaround that has taken the 102-year-old automaker from near-death in 2008, via a 2009 bailout, to unlikely Wall Street flotation favorite in 2010.

Obama administration officials said the strong market debut for GM showed they made the right choice in restructuring the auto maker with $50 billion in financing. "This is a bit better than people had been projecting. As to a year ago. it's not even in the same ballpark," Ron Bloom, the U.S. Treasury official in charge of the GM investment told Reuters Insider. "A year ago, people said 'you have no exit, you have no strategy. This company is not fixed.'"

TPJ: But, don't hold your breath for the naysayers in the Republican party to admit Obama, the Democrats and the Liberals were right in coming to the rescue of one of the last, big manufacturing companies. If we would have listened to the Republicans, and Tea Party Republicans, G.M. would have collapsed and caused a cascading crash of dealerships, parts dealers, steel plants, rubber factories, glass manufacturers, and on and on.

We know that manufacturing has taken one of the hardest hits from this Great Recession, so why wouldn't we want to save one of the last, big employers of manufacturing, skilled-workers? If we would have listened to the Conservatives the entire upper-midwest would have collapsed. As it is the unemployment is bad but imagine how much worse it would be if G.M. collapsed too. It would have absolutely flooded the streets with the unemployed.

It's still painful up there, and we have a lot of work left to do but G.M. was a victory -- an American victory. So, to see how quickly the right-wing politicians wanted to throw G.M. workers under the bus shows exactly what they think of the middle-class. Way to go G.M.!! Way to go Obama!!

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Republican Governors Reject Job Creating Hi-Speed Rail Systems.

(Above: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger with a hi-speed train. Photo by Eugene Hoshiko of AP).

NPR's David Schaper reports on All Things Considered that several Republican governors-elect are threatening to reject federal stimulus dollars for building high-speed rail links in the U.S. Their reason is akin to that offered by New Jersey Gov. Christie when he recently killed the Hudson River rail tunnel project: their states just can't afford to take on the additional debt or tax burdens that would arise from their expected share of the infrastructure spending. This is definitely a new paradigm. It used to be that politicians like governors would jump at the chance to accept federal money for projects that would create jobs and new infrastructure.

TPJ: Yes, it does cost some investment but if we decided to do hi-speed rail across the country, it would employ thousands upon thousands of people. And, we'd have a transportation system on par with Europe, Japan and China, which would offer Americans another option other than price-gouging air-travel. If Abe Lincoln was around today, these Republicans wouldn't have let him do the transcontinental railroad; and yet, that railroad opened up the West for development and saw a boom in mineral resource extraction. It also enabled goods and services to travel across country at a faster rate.

If Eisenhower was alive today, these Republicans wouldn't let him do the interstate highway system, and yet we still rely heavily upon it for goods and service. It's aging and needs to be updated. A hi-speed rail system sounds like just the big idea that this country needs to put masses of people back to work--particularly in the manufacturing and construction industries that have been so hard hit.

Investment requires borrowing money, but often that money is offset by jobs and the revenue that floods in after the project is build. It's always been that way. FDR did it in the Great Depression and it work beautifully. We just don't have the courage to do big things anymore. Too many of us are giving into fear and being paralyzed into doing nothing. We are behaving like a small animal who is under threat of demise, so it stands still hoping the predator won't see it. But it's not fooling anyone. And neither are we. If we just do nothing and hope for the best then I am almost guarantee that it will get worse, but American apparently haven't read about Herbert Hoover. They are drunk on tea spiked by conservatives who think the best thing to do in a crisis is nothing. (Insert deity of your choice, or Darwin if you're an atheist) help us!!

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

John McCain Gets Slammed by Stewart on "Don't Ask. Don't Tell."

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TPJ: McCain needs to change the motto on his bus that he uses to travel around during political campaigns from, "The Straight Talk express" to "The Homophobic Straight Talk Express."

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John McCain: Don't Cut Defense Budget.

Too rash, McCain, too rash. The idea that we can't cut the defense budget AT ALL is absurd. And it's even more absurd to say that if you want to make such cuts that you're being an "isolationist" or "protectionist." I'm not often in agreement with Rand Paul, but defense does need to take a hair-cut just like every other program. I think we can cut the defense budget and still have a one of the biggest and best militaries. It's not a sacred cow. Or, at least it shouldn't be. If we have to look at adjusting social security and medicare then the other big one, defense must take a cut too. We can't continue to be the police of the world.

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Government Cuts MUST Include the Military.

I am willing to meet Republicans and Conservatives half-way on spending cuts, but they have to take a "hair-cut" too. They can't say that we should cut spending and the deficit but then say out of the other side of their mouth that we should extend tax cuts for the uber-rich!! That just requires borrowing money from China, which adds to the deficit too. So, I'm willing (for example) to look at raising the retirement age a couple years if that can ease up on spending, and that is saying something being a liberal, young person who will have to endure those extra years of work. However, I realize that something needs to be done. I also am willing to look at cutting back Medicare benefits even though I count on it for my health care coverage. That said, Tea Party Republicans, Paleo-Republicans and Conservatives need to be willing to cut defense.

This includes the immediate removal of ALL soldiers from Iraq and from all other non-essential to defense military bases worldwide; and includes closing some bases here at home. Germany doesn't need American defense anymore. Since they are one of the big power players in Europe, I think it's time they step up and defend themselves. Japan should be able to do the same. There are even still some troops in Italy for some reason. I don't know, maybe they're there to defend against the rise of a new Caesar?

Now comes the cut that most politicians are terrified of making -- leaving Afghanistan. We've been their over a decade and nothing much has changed. We are repeating the same mistakes of the Russians, British and armies of Alexander the Great. Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda want us to stay there indefinitely and bleed our treasury dry. That is why he targeted the World Trade Center; he wanted to crash our economy, which has historically been one of our greatest assets. Now we are having our pockets and soldiers sucked dry of money and blood over a roving band of miscreants. Intelligence reports tells us there are but a handful of al-Qaeda left in Afghanistan and the Taliban are more angry at the corrupt Karzai government than us at this point.

Plus, since we blew up Afghanistan al-Qaeda has fled to place all around the world. So, there is no longer a center location; it's certainly not in Afghanistan. The new threat is homegrown terrorists and those hiding out in other western countries. This means that good old fashioned police, FBI, CIA and NSA work is our best line of defense. The military doesn't know these cities and neighborhoods like the local police and SWAT teams. So, I think it's better to bring most all troops home and focus on homeland defense. I'm sure it's cheaper if we invest in that than in over-extended military occupations abroad. And so far, our wonderful police, FBI, CIA and NSA have done a perfect jobs of catching threats before they even get up in the morning. So, I put my trust in them.

Will they stop them 100% of the time? Of course not. We have to live with the fact that every now and then a bomb will miss our defenses but I think that would be rare. We have the track record to show that we have a good detection system in place inside the country with our law enforcement agencies. Plus, if we take just even half the money we're spending in Iraq and Afghanistan to beef up our law enforcement agencies and other first responders I think we can do a lot to protect ourselves here at home.

And remember, Israel has been living with much worse for decades and if they can do it -- so can we. I don't think it will ever get as bad as in Israel but we must face the fact that at some point -- another bomb will go off here in America. But life is never a guarantee in this world. In the meantime, we just have to trust the authorities to protect the homeland. I have all the confidence in the world in them. This will also give our soldiers some much needed re-cooperation after all those battles.

The point is we all have to downsize. A country in recession with as much debt as we have can't afford to personally police the world.

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Return of GM: $2 Billon Third Quarter Profit.

A year ago one of the oldest and largest car companies, General Motors was facing bankruptcy due to the Great Recession that kicked off under Bush. Obama stepped in to use government aid to help keep one of the country's biggest employers afloat. Their industry is one of the last manufacturing industries still left in America. It is also one of the last large employers that is available to blue collar workers. You know, the group of Americans who built the middle-class before the Republicans sold their jobs over-seas? Yeah.

President Obama correctly saw the domino effect that would occur should GM have been left to collapse. It would have crashed dealerships and these industries that rely upon auto manufacturing: plastics, steel, parts manufacturers, glass, rubber and many others. The collapse would have created a tidal wave of job loss throughout the already hard-hit manufacturing base.

And what did President Obama get for saving an All-American industry? He was labeled a "socialist." Well, call it what you want but GM has now posted a $2 billion profit in the third quarter and paid back the government loans. Maybe now we can stop hearing the snide and cynical remarks that G.M. actually stands for "Government Motors" from the conservatives who no longer have any sense of economic patriotism.

You see, there was a time in this country when we built great things: Abraham Lincoln had the transcontinental railroad built. FDR had the Hoover Dam built to help kick start the economy and Dwight Eisenhower started the vast inter-state highway system we all enjoy today. These were all seen as investments. Sure, they required spending but what private industry doesn't fund their ventures partly on loans? A lot of private industries get money for their various projects from the government but when they are successful, not many people give government credit for their part.

And that's fine, but I'm tired of hearing that government investment is always a bad thing -- especially in a recession or depression when government is the spender of last resort. If I had one quibble with Obama's recovery package it would be that he didn't do enough of this building. He should have announced a high-speed railway project that would be fast tracked and crisscross the country. It would create countless jobs and involve numerous private companies from state to state. And think of the ripple efffect of the secondary jobs created to feed those workers, house them and otherwise support such a project.

Another project could have been expanding upon his idea of updating America's electrical grid; including a high-tech network of solar array installments the length of the sun belt. As well as wind turbines in the windiest states. Each region in America could have been tasked with building and installing a next generation energy source that fits their climate. Tie them all into one "smart grid" and not only have you jump started the manufacturing base again but also helped reduce our dependence on foreign oil. If this all makes sense to average, college-educated fellow like myself then I don't understand how difficult it is for our leaders to grasp.

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Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Schwarzenegger Talks Pot with Leno.

Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger recently visited The Jay Leno Show and talked about marijuana use. His remarks are of particular interest given the recent ballot initiative in his state to legalize the substance.

He made it sound like he has no problem with marijuana being used by people. "No one cares if you smoke a joint or not." And, despite the proposition to legalize marijuana losing; marijuana has been decriminalized by Schwarzenegger.

It will now be an infraction, which is basically nothing different than a speeding ticket of $100. Decriminalization might be the only way to go; for now. Legalization is close to being possible but it still causes irrational fears in some. So, decriminalization would still allow these people not to feel that they are condoning its use, but also allow otherwise law-abiding citizens to partake of the recreational drug without unjust legal repercussions. It seems (for now) to be a decent compromise.

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ADDENDUM: Yes, that IS Arnold Schwarzenegger smoking a joint in his younger days.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Republicans Misread Election Victories. Main Goal: Push to Prevent Obama Second Term--Not Jobs

(Above, in the foreground: Senate Republican Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell)

Well, the voters have spoken and said that not enough has been done about the economy and bringing back jobs. Thus, they voted in a Republican lead House of Representatives to shake things up. So, you'd think that these Republicans would focus like a laser on the economy and jobs, right? Wrong. As usual they are misreading the election victories for them as a endorsement of the Republican party over Democrats by the voters. Polls show that Americans are just as disappointed with the Republicans as they are the Democrats. So, the votes for Republicans were mainly out of frustration with the stagnate economy, and not a validation of the Republican party's tactics.

The president heard things loud and clear. He got the message that America wants increased attention being paid on jobs. He said as much in his press conference yesterday. So, what did the Republican leader say before the election would be his priority number one? Making sure that President Obama is a one term president. The Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said: "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president." Is that really listening to the people who say the single most important thing to do is create JOBS, JOBS, and MORE JOBS!! I don't think even most average Republicans want to see Congress waste their time investigating the president and working to defeat him in 2012.

So, perhaps you'd think McConnell would shift his focus after the election results showed people demanding jobs. Hell, no. He doubled down on his plan to obsess over President Obama being a one-term president. He said:


But the fact is, if our primary legislative goals are to repeal and replace the health spending bill; to end the bailouts; cut spending; and shrink the size and scope of government, put someone in the White House who won't veto any of these things.

Not once did he say "jobs" in that statement. He's putting the cart before the horse. You can't try to oust the president until two years from now. So, in the meantime Republicans, what are you going to do about jobs?!! Republican, Democrat, Independent, Tea Party, Libertarian or Green Party; people want to see jobs come back. They don't want to see witch hunts and political posturing.

I think the Republicans in Congress are in danger of over-reaching with their power.
They are misreading the will of the people to push a personal political agenda. Americans don't want us to focus on the next election. They are hurting and want economic changes. So, if the GOP keeps making this a personal vendetta against the president and his party then I don't think the voters will be in a mood to reward that in 2012.

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Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Michael Bennet Wins!!

I just got the news from 9News Channel in Denver that Democrat Michael Bennet has defeated the Tea Party candidate, Ken Buck!! Living here in Colorado it really looked like the Tea Party was going to bowl over the well-liked and decent Michael Bennet. However, the commonsense that I've come to be proud of in Colorado saw the cliff edge and turned back from the precipice. I am so proud of my fellow Coloradans!! It was close but in the end the moderate nature of Colorado won out over the radical and rabid Tea Party Republicans. I think the get out the vote campaign from Bennet and the Democrats was solid. Thank-you Colorado!!

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Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Democrats Survive the Purported Republican, "Tidal Wave."

The stubborn donkey held firm after tonight. I'm fairly pleased with the election results. Pleasantly surprised that the Republican victory in the House didn't translate to the Senate. Reid knocked off Angle, which will let me sleep well. Now, if Bennet can pull it out in Colorado I will wake up with a smile on my face. I'd say the Dems survived the night. This certainly isn't a Republican tidal wave.

We heard that the Tea Party was going to stage a revolution tonight and not only did it not happen in the Senate but they lost more elections than helped win. It was the Senate where the most radical Tea Party members were running. Voters didn't seem to vote for the Republicans but rather against the status quo when it comes to the economy.

This was a vote against gridlock, so if the Republicans think that this "victory" gives them the green light to pull a government shut-down of business then I don't think the voters will reward that in 2012.

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Failed Governor Sarah Palin: You Can Never be Too Far Right.

Sarah Palin conveyed to Bill O'Reilly that one can't be too far conservative in politics. Um, well, actually you can Sarah. It's called fascism and it was all the rage back in the mid 20th century, but you probably don't know that because you don't seem to be much of a reader.

Thus, you wouldn't have probably heard of a famous saying that goes, "Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it." Let's just hope she and her Tea Party minions don't drag us all down with them into the abyss.

All you need to know about Tea Party competence with political history can be seen in how they label President Obama. They hurl the label "socialist" and "fascist" all in the same breath, clueless to the reality being that they are two, opposite, extreme types of government!! One, (socialism) is far left. The other, (fascism) is far right.

Then again, people like Palin and the Tea Party were the kids who were "too cool" to pay attention in school, so my little lesson here is surely going in one ear and out the other.

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